F1 test 2021: Alonso shines, Sainz continues to progress and Mercedes suffers

In some F1 tests you don’t have to take into account the times since all the teams try different things and hide their true strength. But you do have to be guided by feelings and the messages that teams want to send in their actions. And with his twists this Saturday morning, Fernando Alonso, on his official return to Formula 1 making his debut at the wheel of his A521 on day 2 of the F1 2021 test, could well exclaim loudly and forcefully an imposing “here I am”. The Asturian, in full adaptation to his new machine after two years away from the ‘Gran Circo’, he led the timesheets on several occasions, finally finishing in second position at 0 ”124 behind the fastest time., marked by Ricciardo and its new McLaren with Mercedes engine. But what is more important is that the Oviedo was able to complete his planned work program without any reliability issues, being able to make the most of the 4 hours of the morning session to face the afternoon session with great confidence, in which he will shoot again. For its part, Carlos Sainz, who also signed a good morning with his Ferrari SF21 (6th), will leave his wheel to his teammate Leclerc this afternoon.

Classification of the morning session of the F1 2021 test day 2

Alpine continues with its good feelings

After the good feelings he had Or with with the Alpine, on a clean first day in which he finished in third place fulfilling all the work, Alonso completed a total of 60 laps to the track of Sakhir, testing different soil configurations, a key element this season due to the change of regulation whereby the rear part of the flat bottoms of all the cars were cut out, something that caused the cars to lose a 10% of its aerodynamic grip. In recovering that load all the sets work, and in turn, Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz They must take advantage of as much time as possible on the track to acclimatize to their car and continue taking steps forward to reach the best possible level for the first race of the year, on March 28 at this same circuit.

The two Spanish pilots, in their day and a half of testing of the total of 3 days, they are working to adapt against the clock to their respective cars. For a driver who is new to a team, without knowing the car, it is crucial to do multiple tests to understand the reaction of the car with different engine maps, tire degradation, with the different tires and with the car more or less loaded with gasoline. Little by little, they must get to know the car in order to understand which set up is the one that best suits their driving style and generates greater confidence. All this, to choose the correct path in the configuration of your car and the progress that can be made with it to scratch tenths of the clock.

Fernando Alonso, in the F1 2021 test
Fernando Alonso, in the F1 2021 test

It’s a lot of work accumulated in just a day and a half of the test, but for now, Fernando and Carlos can be satisfied with their progress, and above all, that they have been able to work without having to waste time in their garages due to reliability problems..

Yes indeed, seeing Fernando Alonso in second position should not be synonymous with anything in terms of results this course. This year’s car should be there to lead the middle zone, although Alpine is aiming to fight for podiums or be close to that battle. Another rooster will crow in the face of 2022, with totally new cars and a regulation that allows Alpine and Alonso dream of fighting for everything again.

Carlos Sainz, in the F1 2021 test
Carlos Sainz, in the F1 2021 test

Mercedes disaster

The Formula 1 test 2021 are choking Mercedes. The champion team, great dominator of the hybrid era (it has won everything since 2014), started the tests on the wrong foot on Friday with a gearbox problem after your first turn that caused Bottas I could only do 6 laps in the morning
. And in the afternoon, Hamilton drove very uncomfortable, off the track and with many braking passes. The championship team was expected to change their face completely on the second day of testing, but Hamilton suffered a lot again to keep a very nervous car on track, something extremely rare for the star’s signature. So much so, that Lewis was the protagonist of the first red flag of the year, leaving in the links of the second sector, at high speed, by committing a spin that left him hooked in the gravel.

Lewis Hamilton, in the F1 test 2021
Lewis Hamilton, in the F1 test 2021

Is Mercedes hiding her cards and trying too extreme settings? That should be the logical thing to do. There is no answer to this, what is clear is that the image given by the team is much inferior to that of the previous tests, where they swelled to roll and roll without stopping, giving hundreds of laps a day. In the tests they do not usually set strong times so as not to show their true strength, but the worrying thing is that in these official tests, those of Brackley They are not giving the feeling of tranquility, calm and solvency, of having everything under control, which they did show in past campaigns.

Red Bull, another very positive morning

To this is added that his great rival for the title this season, Red Bull, continues adding laps without suffering failures. This time he did ‘Checo’ Pérez in his official debut with Milton Keynes, completing a very serious morning session, being third with 39 laps and beginning to gain the trust of some bosses who cannot bear the slightest failure. Pérez, with his experience, did not succumb to that pressure as Gasly did in Barcelona 2019, when he had an accident at his premiere, something that was the beginning of the end for him in the energy drink company.

Checo Pérez, with the RB16B in Bahrain
Checo Pérez, with the RB16B in Bahrain

It is unknown if Red Bull will be able to battle with all the laws against Mercedes this year, but for now, what can be said is that the team led by Chris Horner is very happy, completing their program cleanly and consistently. They want to fight for the title this year.

Checo Pérez, in Bahrain
Checo Pérez, in Bahrain

The gearbox problem is repeated, now at Aston Martin

And as if that were not enough, apart from the problems that Mercedes may have in its own team, Mercedes should worry about Vettel’s setback with Aston Martin, a car that has the same engine as those of the star and its gearbox. This last element is the one that failed after only 6 laps, repeating the cash problem that Mercedes had the day before. In Brackley they will have to solve this setback in these tests and make sure that it is not going to be repeated on the track in the race. By regulation, teams must use the same gearbox for 6 races in a row. Apart from focusing on the performance of its new flat bottom, the great hidden secret of Mercedes that they wanted to hide with blankets when the tow truck took Hamilton’s car, they should pay special attention to this issue.